It is widely believed that the use of hand drawing in the design and planning of buildings is an art form that is no longer widely used; computers have taken over seemingly to make the architect's job easier and for greater accuracy. But what was once considered an art form has not died out completely, with many architects still favouring the pencil to the PC, and if you were to ask most architects where their computer-generated designs and plans are born from, most would tell you that it is the ‘architect’s scribble’ on a piece of paper.
It is thought that trainee architects should always learn to draw their designs by hand. To the untrained eye, a building and its architecture seem simple, start to draw a building, and you begin to see the intricacies of its design and construction. For many experienced professionals, drawing is the only way you can truly design a building. Even if their hand-drawn design is eventually produced by a computer, the thought process and initial stages of design come from the hand and the heart.
American architect Michael Graves was a strong advocate of hand-drawn designs. He felt that even if computers were used to iron out the more technical details of a building’s design, drawings were one of the most important parts of the architectural process and expressed the interaction of our minds, eyes and hands. He created his designs on translucent paper so he could layer one drawing on top of the next and progress his design to the next level. Michael felt that a hand-drawn building design emitted emotion and creativity and computer generated building design resulted in ‘blob architecture’ and whilst intricate, complex and interesting in their own way, lacked the emotional content of a hand-drawn design.
But do we want emotive design in our buildings today, or do we need linear, practical, functional designs that can serve a modern world? After all, we are entering the age of the robot, so surely this should be reflected in the way we shape the skyline of tomorrow’s world? Well maybe not. Research tells us that as much as we want practical and functional, we still need to feel connected emotionally to buildings, and many architects think that the only way to achieve this is to pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and draw what the eye sees and the heart feels.
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